Public health study presents strategies for increasing diversity of clinical trials

Founding dean, Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH

In a paper published online in cell.com/Neuron, Bernadette Boden-Albala, director and founding dean of UCI’s Program in Public Health, highlights three key areas for increasing the participation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in clinical trials. Diversity delivers greater generalizability of results, more ethically sound research and the ability to assess risks across populations, she noted.

Researchers must recognize the role of systemic and historical racism and bias, Boden-Albala said, and acknowledge that procedural processes and recruitment are still subject to unintentional bias that affects who is included in – and excluded from – clinical trials.

To remedy these disparities, she said, three critical functions must be addressed: screening, the conversion from eligible to enrolled, and retention. “The lack of diversity often comes down to a straightforward reason: We simply aren’t asking people to participate, and if we are asking, we’re not asking in a way that makes the case for trial participation,” Boden-Albala said. “Through empathetic dialogue and strengthened community partnerships, we can transform clinical research for the better and work toward a future that’s more inclusive and equitable for all. Improving diversity and inclusion in research is, at its core, a matter of social justice.”


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